Netanyahu says site set for new town on Golan Heights to be named after Trump

PM says planning has already started; site is reportedly in the northern Golan, cornerstone will be laid on June 10

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that a site had been located for a new town in the Golan Heights named after US President Donald Trump, after announcing his intention to do so less than three weeks ago in honor of the US president’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the northern territory.

A report last week said Netanyahu will lay a cornerstone for the new community as early as next month.

“This week we mark a year since the US embassy was opened in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “We very much appreciate that historic decision by President Trump, just as we very much appreciate his historic decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights.

“I promised that we would establish a community named after President Trump,” Netanyahu added. “I am informing you that we have already located a spot in the Golan where that new community will be established, and that the process has begun.

“I will bring the decision for formal approval by the new government when it is formed.”

US President Donald Trump smiles at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, after signing a proclamation formally recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The prime minister is currently leading negotiations to form a new government after receiving backing from a majority of the lawmakers elected in last month’s general election.

The premier’s remarks came after the Makor Rishon newspaper last week reported that the site chosen for the new village was near the existing community of Kela Alon in the northwestern Golan, and will be built using blueprints originally made for the construction of the community of Bruchin in 1992, which didn’t come to fruition.

Netanyahu is expected to lay the cornerstone for the new community — for which a name hasn’t yet been chosen — on June 10, a day before the 52nd anniversary of Israel gaining control of the Golan during the Six Day War, the report said.

The community will welcome both religious and secular families and at first some 120 families will live in it, it added.

The Golan Regional Council last week updated local residents of its intention to hold a large event on the anniversary of the Golan’s capture from Syria marking Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty, according to the report. The council said it was a “historic opportunity” to develop the area.

Trump first said he would recognize Israeli control of the Golan in a tweet on March 21. He signed the actual proclamation on March 25 when Netanyahu visited the White House, in a move seen by some as timed to help the Israeli premier in his reelection bid. It upended decades of US policy and drew international condemnation, alongside Israeli praise.

Israel captured the strategic plateau from Syria in 1967 and in 1981 effectively annexed the area, in a move never recognized by the rest of international community, which considers the Golan Heights to be occupied Syrian territory.

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